Advertising and marketing graduate programs engage students in a rigorous study of advanced topics with an emphasis on technical, analytic, and theoretical approaches to successfully marketing products, services, and brands. In addition, many programs help students develop their skills as managers, leaders, or educators in marketing or advertising.
Format / Location - Online
Total Enrollments - 3,779+
Student / Teacher Ratio - 15:1
Format / Location - Online
Total Enrollments - 3,030+
Student / Teacher Ratio - 15:1
Format / Location - Online
Total Enrollments - 10,861+
Student / Teacher Ratio - 1:1
Format / Location - Online
Total Enrollments - 552+
Student / Teacher Ratio - 8:1
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Program curricula at the graduate level may emphasize general areas of the subjects, such as communications, management, and marketing strategy, and/or specialized areas of the subjects such as consumer behavior, analytics, and design.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, marketing managers must be analytical, creative, organized, and adept at communicating, making decisions, and working with groups of people. If you lack any of these skills now, consider that pursuing an advanced degree in marketing could help you develop them! If your skills are already on point, enjoy taking your skills to the next level.
For entrance into an advertising or marketing graduate program, applicants typically submit an application, application fee, and when required, GMAT or GRE scores. (Though not all programs require students to take a graduate-level exam, so always determine each program’s requirements). To complete an application, you’ll likely need to submit:
Some schools have rolling admissions dates, but the majority of them have specific deadlines for application throughout the school year. Check application due dates and class start dates for each program you intend to apply to.
Advertising and marketing are quite similar and often depend on one another for success. However, marketing includes the comprehensive efforts professionals make to share and spread a message and influence consumer behavior. Advertising, meanwhile, is a subset of marketing—one of the tactics marketers might employee to make their efforts successful.
Marketing includes techniques such as:
Advertising, meanwhile, uses art and design to deliver messages by way of print, television, radio, the internet, and other venues.
A marketing program, therefore, focuses broadly on methodologies for sharing a message and influencing consumer behavior. An advertising program, meanwhile, focuses on sharing a message through a particular venue and as one of many marketing techniques.
Did You Know?
While the Mad Men show demonstrated women’s lack of space in the advertising profession and their fight to create one, the Mad Men set was full of women writers and other professionals. Thankfully, the show didn’t embrace the environment it depicted.
There are three types of marketing and advertising degrees you can pursue at the graduate level: a master’s degree, a doctorate degree, and a certificate. The one you choose to pursue depends on:
Business Administration with Specialization in Marketing
Ph.D, D.B.A., M.B.A.
Marketing & Advertising Management
Marketing Communication Management
Digital Marketing & Advertising
At the master’s level, students can pursue a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) in marketing or advertising. Often, programs in these areas are housed in a university’s business, communications, or design school and may include courses in business, communications, or design.
Master’s degrees typically take two years to complete. They often require students to complete core and elective coursework and a final project of some sort, such as a thesis, presentation, portfolio, or capstone project. Students must have a bachelor’s degree to pursue a master’s degree. Once they have a master’s degree, they can pursue a doctorate degree.
In a master’s degree program, you might study:
Did You Know?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 23 percent of market research analysts and marketing specialists held master’s degrees in their 2017 audit. Those workers earned a mean annual wage of $90,000 that same year, meaning that on average they earned a mean annual wage of $25,000 more than professionals who held a bachelor’s degree.iii For many workers, having a master’s degree pays.
At the doctorate level, students can pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in marketing or advertising. Students might use this level of degree to learn how to teach marketing, advertising, communications, or business at the college level.
Doctorate degrees in marketing and advertising typically take four years to complete. In addition to coursework, doctoral students typically complete a dissertation and take a comprehensive exam. Alternatively, or in addition, they might submit a portfolio or participate in an assistantship or fellowship.
In a doctorate program, you might study:
Students can pursue graduate certificates—designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree—to develop their basic knowledge in marketing and advertising or to learn about specific area of the subjects. Certificates help specialize and focus students’ knowledge. They can also enable students to “test” the subject to see if it’s one they want to study in greater depth.
Students can earn a marketing or advertising certificate in six months to one year by completing core and elective coursework. Certificate programs don’t typically have capstone research projects or cumulative exams (though a final course might include what it calls a capstone project).
In a certificate program, you might study:
Whether you pursue a master’s degree, doctorate degree, or certificate, you’ll take a blend of courses that allow for both focus and exploration.
Core courses, which allow for marketing-focused learning, will cover general marketing and advertising topics or an area of the subjects in depth. Here is a core marketing program sample:
Or you might study an area of advertising or marketing in depth, such as marketing analytics. In a program with marketing analytics as your core curriculum, you might study:
Beyond your core courses, you’ll have options to take electives in areas of interest. No matter your program level, a smaller percentage of your entire curriculum will comprise elective courses.
As an advertising major, your elective options might include subjects like:
In a marketing program, you might study elective subjects such as:
Some marketing and advertising programs even allow students to select any upper-division courses at the school as electives.
Students’ core and elective options might vary by concentration, specialization, or track. Many advertising and marketing programs, particularly at the masters and doctorate levels, allow students to direct their studies in a particular area. This helps them develop knowledge pertinent to their interests and careers.
Some examples of concentrations, specializations, or tracks in marketing and advertising include: marketing analytics, consumer behavior, management, business (for people who intend to apply their skills in a business setting), and research (for people who intend to apply their skills to college-level education).
Fun (and Crazy!) Facts
Did you know that 7-Up used to advertise that its sugary beverage was good for babies? Ads from the early 1950s convinced baby’s moms to put it in baby’s bottle. Equally interesting, ads from the late 1940s boasted doctors promoting smoking as not only desirable, but healthy! Camels, by the company’s own estimate, was the smoke of choice for most doctors. Also crazy: Sugar was promoted as being good for dieters, and Lysol claimed that clean homes saved marriages.
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers
In 2017, advertising, promotions, and marketing managers earned a median annual salary of $129,380. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that the field would grow by 10 percent (which is faster than average) between 2016 and 2026.
In 2017, Art Directors earned a median annual salary of $92,500. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the field will grow by five percent (which is as fast as average) between 2016 and 2026.
Hot Spots for Advertisers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New York, Illinois, and California employ the most advertising and promotions managers at the highest rates of pay.
Advertising and marketing graduate programs offer various levels of education to help you build your knowledge and skill set in marketing and advertising. Depending on your needs and future goals, you can study marketing broadly, focus on advertising, or develop your knowledge in a specific area of one or the other. Explore all your options here to see what best fits your education and career goals.
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